Meetings

Four Ways to Help Attendees Have a Successful Virtual Conference Experience

By / May 28, 2020 (AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

As participants transition to attending your virtual conferences, some may have a larger learning curve than others. Here are four ideas for helping attendees have a positive virtual experience.

When associations have hosted in-person conferences, they’ve done a number of things both ahead of and during the meeting to make sure their attendees are ready for the experience. Among them: hosting virtual pep rallies before the event to get participants excited, setting first-timers up with conference mentors, and incorporating tools like Amazon Alexa to help with wayfinding onsite.

But, as conferences transition to virtual and attendees need to get comfortable with the online experience, what can associations do to make it easier for them? Here are a few ideas for helping attendees have a successful virtual conference experience:

Get them acclimated to the virtual platform before the event kicks off. If this is the first time that attendees are being asked to log onto a virtual platform to learn and network, some training will be necessary. A week or so before your virtual event, consider hosting a webinar where you run down the basics of using the platform and give participants a chance to ask questions. Also, make sure to share a one-page guide that covers basic FAQs like how to ask a question during a session, how to track their continuing-education units, and how to access recordings post-conference.

Don’t forget about customer service. You don’t want attendees to get so frustrated by a technical glitch or some other hiccup that they log off of the virtual event. So, just as you would have a customer service team in place for your in-person event, do the same for your virtual experience. Make sure there’s a place in your platform for attendees to get help (whether through live chat or something else) at any point during the conference. Also, ensure that staff is monitoring chats that are going on during sessions so that they can respond to questions that may come up there.

Take your conference buddy program virtual. Even though your event moved online, it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate your conference buddy program. You can still pair people up and encourage them to connect before the meeting via videoconference or phone to get to know each other. To keep conversations going during the meeting, you can also build time in at the start or end of the day to allow buddies to connect in your platform.

Consider an emcee to help attendees navigate the experience. To highlight connections among the sessions and the conference theme (if you have one), have an emcee host an opening “priming” session and a closing “synthesis” session on each day of the conference. This will help your attendees to tee up and review the day, reflect on what they experienced, and share some ways they’re going to apply what they learned.

What are you doing to make sure your attendees have an enjoyable virtual conference experience? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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